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Depictions of deception, focusing on five Shakespearean Characters

Archer, Dawn and Gillings, Mathew (2020) Depictions of deception, focusing on five Shakespearean Characters. Language and Literature. ISSN 0963-9470 (In Press)

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Abstract

This paper will draw on the resource created as part of the AHRC-funded Encyclopaedia of Shakespeare’s Language project to explore, quantitatively and qualitatively, Shakespeare’s depictions of five deceptive characters. Our quantitative analyses of the five characters will adopt two strands. • Statistical keywords relating to each character will be examined, to determine what this tells us about their natures more generally. • We will then draw on the wordlists produced for each of the five characters (Aaron, Tamora; Iago; Lady Macbeth; Falstaff) to determine the extent to which they make use of linguistic features that have been correlated with or linked to acts of deliberate deception in real-world contexts. Our qualitative analysis will make use of the results identified during the two strands of quantitative analysis by using them to identify particular turns or sequences of turns worthy of more detailed analysis. We will pay attention to where keywords and/or potential deceptive indicators cluster (or co-occur) in a character’s interaction(s), for example (Archer and Lansley 2015): and determine whether these are the same interactions that have been discussed by others, when exploring depictions of deception in Shakespeare from a literary perspective. We will also seek to determine the extent to which the ‘deceptive’ depictions change stylistically, from character to character, and from context to context.

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